I hope you will take the time to read my story.
I found out that I had Jewish family when I was almost 17 (19 years ago). My grandmother at the time, (that has been dead for many years now) who is my Mother's mother, was sick and while being with my Mum told her that we were Jewish and she had relatives and named names to my Mum that she had never heard before. Apparently German Jewish was the background.
My Mum was very surprised as she had never known this and was kept hidden from us all. After this happened I was watching the news at home in London and feeling pain watching a story on a recent terror attack in Israel. My Mum then mentioned what had happened with her and grandmother. This set off a spark inside that wanted to embrace this and know more.
This eventually became an obsession of mine. My first friend was Jewish who had family in Israel (although very Secular), which I ended up visiting in 2005, but before that I wanted to connect to Jews and Judaism. I was going through a very tough time in the early 00s as my parents had a terrible separation, but this journey was a strength for me and I was constantly in Golders Green (a vibrant Jewish area of London) everyweek, I also "randomly" started to meet and befriend Jews where ever I was it felt.
At the time when my grandmother was still alive, I tried to ask her questions about this but sadly she never wanted to talk about it or shrugged her shoulders and lit up cigarettes (she was a big smoker). She always said that she was Catholic the family years before she mentioning having Jewish ancestry. I kept asking trying to ask anyone I could, but nobody had an answer. Even my Mum (who is not really interested in Judaism or having Jewish ancestry that much) when I asked her several times through the years, it was "I can't remember everything grandmother said at the time" or "I think her grandfather Stephan was a German Jew..." and more recently "no! it was your grandmother's grandmother that was Jewish and Stephan was German...".
This was and continues to be very confusing and frustrating for me. Because my Mum doesn't remember much and my Uncle the eldest of the siblings, had a bad relationship with my grandmother and also doesn't care regarding grandmother. And unfortunately, all the other older relatives have since passed away.
But, I'll continue with this later... Back to the story...
Once I went to university in the North of England in 2005, I got involved with the Chaplin Rabbi of the time and had my first real Shabbat experience.
It blew my mind! And even though I didn't understand any of the blessings in Hebrew or what real Observance of Shabbat was, I felt very connected and it did not feel alien to me.
As time went on I met lots of people in the Jewish student community and became close with the new Chaplin Rabbi and Chabad. During this time, I experience all the holidays and began to become observant, and experienced laying Teflillin. It was very special and I learned so much and began to grow.
I wanted to investigate a little in my background because I wanted actual proof.
I managed to look a little into my grandmother's background until I found Stephan Camfield and Elizabeth Henrietta Dann, her grandparents. I was very sad because it saw that they married in an East London church in the 1890s and I felt like everything wasn't what I hoped for. I felt stuck and I had no help in this clarity. Although I did see that Elizabeth's Dad was Samuel Dann.
It continued this way until I considered maybe doing some kind of conversion process just to be on the safe side. But, that ultimately did not happen as the pressure built up on me too much financially, the lack of knowing whether I'm Jewish or not and other issues. So in 2010 whilst living back in London, I dropped everything as I was so upset and not getting any help. I decided to go 'off the derech' and just live my life as a young man.
I met a Swedish girl in London through music connections, we were in a relationship for 3 years and at the end I moved to Stockholm (where I now currently live with my fiance) in 2013 to have a relationship with her, that eventually failed. During the end of that relationship I began to feel a strong pull back to Judaism after attending a Shabbat dinner at Chabad. This was in 2014, and what would be the beginning of my journey back to Judaism. During this time, I met my current fiance as I was going through this return and a close friend who brought me back into Torah Judaism. Since 2014, I have been studying so much, come back to Shabbat Observance and growing in my Kosher.
Besides this, one last thing I'll mention is going back to what I mentioned earlier... My mother about 4 years ago said that it was actually the grandmother of her mother that was Jewish and Stephan was the German. So this made me feel stronger and that it was more likely as she seemed more certain.
I gained hope again but it still wasn't enough.
I have realised that this whole journey has been amazing and yet very emotionally straining for me. I feel that for over 16 years now I have not had any clarity on this and I truly feel that I deserve to know once and for all so I can move on and plan my future accordingly.
What my grandmother revealed to my mother was a huge thing and I do not for a second believe it was a coincidence. My life changed forever when I found out about having Jewish ancestry and the funny this is that about 2 years ago I found that my Dad is Jewish and that his Mom's family originally left Europe due to persecution and were Polish Jews. I met my old great uncle at a funeral and he confirmed this and can speak Yiddish.
This was an extra source of strength for me, but didn't settle the main issue at hand.
I need clarity and do not want to cry or feel stressed about it anymore. I'd be happy to give out as much info as I can regarding names and birthdays etc. But I have no paper work.
Can anybody here help...?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I'm sure it's not the first, but I really appreciate some feedback.
May you all blessed with health, success and growth.